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A SPECIAL SECTION: Haiti, Since the January 12, 2010 Fierce Earthquake

Posted Sunday, January 30, 2011 

A U.S. Secretary of State Clinton's meeting with with Haiti's president, nation's leading presidential candidates
By Arshad Mohammed,
Reuters Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 30 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Haiti's leaders on Sunday to adopt an internationally backed solution to untangle an election dispute, saying the poor, earthquake-battered country needed a stable government to rebuild.

Clinton held talks in Port-au-Prince with outgoing Haitian President Rene Preval and leading presidential candidates on a visit overshadowed by the unfolding political crisis in Egypt.

She said she delivered the message that Washington wants Haitian authorities to enact recommendations by Organization of American States experts that revise contested preliminary results from chaotic Nov. 28 elections in the Caribbean nation.

OAS experts, citing widespread irregularities in voting tallies from the Nov. 28 poll, have recommended that presidential candidate and popular musician Michel Martelly be included in a second-round runoff vote in March in place of the government-backed candidate, Jude Celestin.

Opposition matriarch Mirlande Manigat is already confirmed through to the runoff.

"We want to see the voices and votes of the Haitian people acknowledged and recognized," Clinton said on her arrival. She said this would help bolster Haiti's reconstruction from its devastating 2010 earthquake.

"There needs to be a government and there needs to be stability in that government ... for the international community, to really be able to partner, which is why we hope that there will be a resolution of the election soon," she said in an interview with local Radio Metropole.

She spoke after separate meetings with the front-runner electoral contenders: Manigat, Martelly and Celestin.

As well as the United States, the United Nations and major western donors like France and Britain, along with the European Union, have made clear they also support the OAS recommendation for the Manigat-Martelly line-up in the second round runoff.

Despite the OAS report and international pressure, Celestin, a government technocrat and protege of Preval, has not formally withdrawn from the race despite urging from his own INITE coalition to do so.

Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council has said it will announce on Wednesday the definitive results from the confused elections. The preliminary results announced last month triggered street riots by Martelly's supporters, because Celestin was placed narrowly ahead of their candidate.

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